Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bow Ornament Armored Cruiser New York

One of the most magnificent artifacts (and most certainly the largest) at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum is the bow ornament from the armored cruiser USS New York(ACR-2). The new steel hulled American warships built between the 1880s and early 1900s revitalized the Age of Sail tradition of bow ornaments. These ornaments were almost always used some type of patriotic/nationalist theme to them, typically with the American flag on a shield with gold trimmings around it.

But even by the day's standard, New York's ornament was extravagant. Notice the large gold eagle, mythical figures of Neptune and his court, Lady Justice is one side, Lady Liberty is on the other, and the large ribbon at the bottom with the word "EXCELSIOR" (the motto for the state of New York) written on it. The entire ornament was carved out of wood and is in remarkable shape considering New York's long service (over 40 years). Picture below is the cruiser with the ornament attahced.

Monday, February 9, 2009

USS Norfolk (DL-1)

This is the front third of the "destroyer leader" USS Norfolk, the lead ship in a new class of post-World War II destroyers. She was a great experiment. She new types of guns, a new type of anti-submarine warfare weapon (called "Weapon Alpha"), and a new hull design. For a destroyer, she was a large vessel (5,700 tons vs. 2,100 tons) as she was built on the hull lines of a light cruiser. Despite the size, her design is very pleasing on the eye and almost has a science fiction like feel to it.

However, like many experimental warships throughout the history of the Navy, Norfolk had many problems and was not a tremendous success. However, the lessons learned served the Fleet well in developing other future destroyer types.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Blacks in Blue Public Programming at HRNM

In February, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum is proud to offer programming on African-American Naval Heroes. Join us in the museum gallery as we explore the history of African-Americans in the U.S. Navy beginning with the Revolutionary War. Programs will run every Saturday in February beginning at 2:00 p.m. The lectures are free and open to the public.

Come and learn the extraordinary history of African American sailors and their triumphs through adversity at home and abroad.

The program will be located inside the museum gallery.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

USS Dale (DD-5) in Richmond, VA

“At first the idea of building warships at this city was received with skepticism not to say ridicule, especially by the seashore cities," wrote the Richmond Dispatch in 1901. But Richmond, Virginia-native and industrialist William R. Trigg was out to prove the "seashore cities" wrong. Trigg set up the William R. Trigg Company on the James River in 1898. Shown here is the Torpedo Boat Destroyer Number 5, USS Dale, near completion by Trigg's workers. We are currently working on a Daybook article about the life and death of an ambitious attempt to build U.S. Naval warships hundreds of miles inland from the ocean.